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Many project managers have little involvement in the writing of project business cases until they are asked to produce one in the APM PQ. This is because they are either because they work for a contractor, so respond to ITTs. Even if they work for a client organisation the business case is often prepared by a development manager or even finance.
From the APM point of view understanding the business need and demonstrating that a return exists for the project is a fundamental part of project management. Project success is not just on time and cost delivery but also delivering the ultimate business benefit. The APM views the project from the perspective of the client sponsor.
So when writing a business case for the PQ what are the headings and what should go in each heading? In summary a business case should include as a minimum. In this case we will take and investment in an upgraded to a Uninterruptable Power Supply for a operational IT system
1) A statement of the business opportunity or problem.
This needs to explain why the project is important for the organisation, why it needs to be done now and what will be the difference in the business one the project is complete. For example investing in a UPS is essential for the business continuity because it will significantly improve the risk of catastrophic corruption of the companies’ data.
2) An overall statement of the project benefit and cost in quantifiable terms if possible.
The cost of the project is £100k, with a risk assessed benefit of £150k per year based on the lost revenue while data is restored from backup.
3) A consideration of the options for implementation.
For example The following options have been considered in drawing up this business case
1. Moving the a hosted solution, however this required to much retraining of staff to make it economic,
2. Duplicate and redundant servers, however this gave the highest reliability but was the most expensive in terms of capital investment and ongoing revenue costs,
3. Do nothing and continue using the existing UPS systems, however due to expiring battery life this has been flagging increasing number of charger faults,
4.Replacing the batteries in the existing system, however this is uneconomic because of the battery used is obsolete and only available at premium prices. Therefore the preferred option is to upgrade the whole UPS system during a shutdown during the Easter holiday.
4) A summary of the overall timescales and costs.
This is not a detailed implementation plan but a broard description to enable the business to decide if it want to proceed. The change is expected to take 4 months to plan and execute including procurement, installation, testing and commissioning. The total budget for the project will be £100k and will also require 3 internal man months of effort (often supported by a breakdown)
5) The benefits of this project are described for each of the planned years and benefit areas.
For example reduced risk of emergency system shut down during unexpected power outages, improved business continuity, improved data security.
6) A summary of the overall strategy.
The design, installation and testing phase of this project will be outsources through competitive tendering. A small internal team will manage the interface with operations and the contractors.